ZAFAR MALIK/RANA YOUSAF WAHEED

HAFIZABAD

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said the government was fully determined to rehabilitate the flood-affected people and would not leave them in this hour of trial.

Addressing a big gathering of flood-stricken people in Jalalpur Bhattian, he said the government was fully aware of the misery of the flood affectees and was making all-out efforts to look after their needs. The country was facing multiple problems, including dearness and poverty, and efforts were being made to solve them. He said efforts would be made to prevent future floods by constructing more embankments for their safety. He said Shahbaz Sharif had already visited Jalalpur Bhattian twice and promised he himself would again visit this area. He appreciated Minister of State for Health, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar, his father, Ch Afzal Hussain Tarar, ex-federal parliamentary secretary, Gujranwala Commissioner Shumail Ahmad Khawaja, DCO Muhammad Usman and DPO Muhammad Zubair Dareshak for supervising the rescue and relief operations. He also visited the relief camp set up in Jalapur Bhattian and expressed his satisfaction over the arrangements made by the district administration. He also praised the army personnel for actively participating in the rescue operation through boats and helicopters. He, however, ordered acquisition of more boats for ensuring speedy evacuation of the marooned affectees.

The prime minister said the government would construct their damaged homes and compensate the livestock losses. “It is our duty; we are not doing any favour and the government is doing its level best to reach out to the affected people despite shortage of resources,” he added. The prime minister said Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was personally supervising the rescue and relief activities in all the flood-hit areas. Shahbaz was working day and night and visiting the areas daily, he added. To cope with such catastrophic situation, there should be ample availability of resources so that people could reap financial benefits, he asserted.  “There should be progress in the country so that people could get jobs. Pakistan should increase its export,” he opined.

He assured the people the government would spend maximum funds on the rehabilitation and relief efforts.

The prime minister directed the officials concerned to speed up their relief and rescue activities with all the available resources. He also ordered evacuation of livestock to safer places.

Earlier, Gujranwala Commissioner Shumail Ahmad Khawaja, while giving briefing to the PM, said 200 villages with 200,000 population had been affected by the flash floods, five persons killed, 66 injured and crops over 100,000 acres destroyed due to breach in Lower Chenab Canal. He added Hafizabad-Gujranwala Road had been badly damaged. More than 60 boats and three helicopters had been engaged for rescue and evacuation operation, he pointed out. So far 22,000 villagers had been evacuated through boats and helicopters by the army, Rescue-1122 and others, he told the PM.

Before arriving Jalapur Bhattian, the prime minister along with Minister of State Saira Afzal Tarar, Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed and the Punjab chief secretary took aerial view of the flood-affected area of the district. As he reached Jalalpur Bhattian, the flood affectees and other people present there chanted slogans of “Nawaz Sharif Zindabad” and “Pakistan Zindabad”.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, during his visit to Sialkot, said financial compensation would be paid to the flood affectees quickly. He also ordered the government to jazz up the pace of ongoing rescue, relief and rehabilitation activities. He said the early rehabilitation of the flood-hit people was top priority of the government.

The PM was briefed on the relief and rehabilitation activities during his short stay at Sialkot International Airport here today, before taking an aerial view of the flood-devastated areas of Head Tarimu, Jalalpur Bhatian, Wazirabad , Bajwat, Head Marala-Sialkot, Gujrat, Mandi Bahauddin and Hafizabad. The elected representatives from Sialkot region were also present on the occasion.

Nawaz Sharif said the PML-N government had evolved a comprehensive programme for relief and rehabilitation of the marooned people and relief camps had been set up in the affected areas.